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The Way Forward for the Democratic Party of Japan under Okada KatsuyaItō Atsuo

Okada Katsuya was elected the new leader of the Democratic Party of Japan in January. He now faces the daunting task of rebuilding the DPJ as a viable alternative to the Liberal Democratic Party. This article looks at what Okada and other party leaders will need to do to accomplish that task.
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Timeline for January 2015

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō visits the Middle East, mourners mark the twentieth anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and the extremist group Islamic State kills two Japanese hostages. These are the main news stories for January 2015.
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Ambivalent Mandate for the Abe CabinetTakenaka Harukata

Was the ruling coalition’s landslide in the recent general election a sweeping mandate for Prime Minister Abe’s economic policies, as the government has claimed? Political scientist Takenaka Harukata suggests otherwise, arguing that voter support for the status quo rests on disillusionment with the opposition and uncertainty about the long-term success of “Abenomics.”
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Lower House Election Provides Little Drama as LDP Stays in Power

The forty-seventh House of Representatives election on December 14, 2014, saw the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Kōmeitō retain their two-thirds majority in the lower house by combining to capture 326 seats, an unchanged number. The much-expected gains of the LDP failed to materialize as the party lost four seats, slipping from 295 to 291. Coalition partner Kōmeitō managed to…
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What Type of Decentralization Best Suits Japan?Sasaki Nobuo

There is a consensus that Japan will need to thoroughly reform its overly centralized system of government if it hopes to reduce its massive deficits. Sasaki Nobuo, a professor at Chūō University and advocate of a new system of regional blocks, describes several paths Japan could take toward decentralization.
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Japan-US Relations: The Need for Commitment and Restraint

Abe Shinzō’s new administration has made a promising start in its dealings with the United States, including an inaugural summit with President Barack Obama that laid the groundwork for Japan’s participation in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The bilateral relationship faces numerous issues, though, whose outcome remains to be seen. We asked former ambassador to the United States Fujisaki Ichirō to share his thoughts.
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Decentralization: Who Is It For?Takenaka Harukata

Decentralization of power has been on Japan’s agenda for 20 years, but how much real progress has been achieved? We interviewed Katayama Yoshihiro, who won high marks for his performance as governor of Tottori Prefecture (1999–2007) and who promoted decentralization as a member of Kan Naoto’s cabinet (2010–11).
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Nuclear Power and the Emptiness of Political PromisesHayakawa Masaya

At a New Year’s meeting of her supporters on January 13, Shiga Prefecture’s governor Kada Yukiko revealed the series of events that led to the formation of the Nippon Mirai no Tō, or the “Tomorrow Party of Japan.” Apparently she took the decision to form the party after being persuaded by Ozawa Ichirō in the lead-up to the December’s lower house elections that “if you run, we should get 100 cand…
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Abe’s Agenda on Three FrontsKitaoka Shin’ichi

In order to deal with the difficult issues Japan faces domestically and internationally, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō will need to display leadership and promote realistic policies without getting tied up in ideology.
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Consumption Tax Bill Repercussions Have Just BegunGotō Kenji

As we all know, the last phase of deliberations over the consumption tax bill took place on August 8, at a meeting between Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko of the Democratic Party of Japan and Tanigaki Sadakazu, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party.(*1) It was then that Noda promised Tanigaki that he would dissolve the lower house and call a general election “soon,” persuading Tanigaki t…
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